Collective Custom Build

Not enough homes are being built in the UK to meet needs, while a small number of volume house-builders deliver quantities of generic housing in chunks as long as the market is booming. But what happens when people get together and think about what they need - rather than what the house-builders want to give them? Can we re-prioritise liveability over short-term profit? In other countries, it is relatively common for people to build their own homes and for self-provision to represent a viable procurement route for housing. 

Carried out in collaboration with the architecture school of the University of Sheffield, our practice-based research project presented a model for how people in the UK might engage collectively in the production of housing and demonstrated that the aspiration of building your own home is not just for the well-off. The outcome was a report, Motivating Custom Build, and an animated website, which provides a rich and lively online resource for people who want to get together and build their own homes.

Aerial views of the three options for development:

Option 1 restricts itself to land already in the public ownership.

Option 2 makes strategic interventions requiring additional land assembly.

Option 3 is transformative, optimising the site's potential.

An annotated plan of development Option 3, which provides 471 new homes including 163 affordable, 800 jobs, new boat moorings, an entirely new public realm, a pedestrian bascule bridge, a water taxi service to and from Cowes and a 474 space car park surrounded by co-working uses.

Option 3: views downriver towards Cowes and upriver towards Newport town centre.

Quayside market colonnade with apartments over.

Aerial view of the Caravanserai identifying the components that made up its final state.

A view of the proposals from Station Road, looking north west across Vicarage Field.

Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos

Nineteenth century map of Deptford showing London's first railway

Read more about the thinking behind this project:

Ashford's new Odeon Cinema on opening night in 1932.

Deptford Station goods yard before redevelopment as Deptford Market Yard.

Interim urbanism: a railway carriage repurposed as a café restaurant.

Mudlarking: drama and circus used as part of the process of placemaking

A feast at The Longest Table in London - with its own roof.


Cristina Cerulli, Fionn Stevenson and Sam Brown - School of Architecture, University of Sheffield

Home Improvements Knowledge Exchange

David Birkbeck - Design for Homes Funding: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Web Design: Sam Brown with Hush

Animation: Ash Sakula with Wrench & Franks